#1 WHY THE EGG DONOR’S AGE IS SO IMPORTANT
Humans reach their peak of fertility in their teens and early twenties. To understand why age is such an important factor for egg donation, it is helpful to understand the numbers involved in egg production.
How Aging Affects Human Eggs
At birth, the ovary of a female baby contains around 400,000 follicles which contain on average two million eggs (oocytes). These numbers are mind boggling but at this stage, the eggs are microscopic single cells filled with fluid. They remain dormant until sexual maturity is reached.
Each egg has a lifespan which is pre-determined and may be a few days or many years. From birth until the menopause, the number of eggs becomes less and less.
By adolescence, 90% of the eggs will have already been lost, with only around 100,000 remaining from the original two million. In males, the production of sperm is an ongoing process but for females, there is no fresh production of eggs – only the dwindling numbers.
What Causes The Eggs To Be Lost?
Inside the egg, there are protein structures which can spontaneously deteriorate. This would affect the process of fertilization – giving rise to a failure in embryo development, a failure in the implantation process or a very early miscarriage.
The Chance of Genetic Abnormalities Increases with Age
Inside the nucleus of the egg, there are microscopic threads of genetic information called chromosomes. These contain DNA. The information in DND is essential for a healthy child to develop.
As a woman ages, it becomes more likely for chromosomes to be lost, broken or for them to develop abnormalities. These issues may lead to a birth defect in the baby or an early loss of pregnancy.
Only the Strongest Egg Survives
Every month when a new menstrual cycle begins, forty to fifty eggs are recruited by the ovaries. A process of elimination begins so that in fourteen days time, when ovulation occurs, only the best egg is released for potential fertilization. These checks and balances help minimize abnormal pregnancies, insuring that only the healthiest embryos can implant.
However, it is still possible for an egg with undetected issues to get through the rigorous screening. If an unsuitable egg is released, it may not be fertilized, or it may not divide as it should, potentially leading to a failed implantation or again, to any early pregnancy loss.
Therefore, it is known that as a woman ages, there is not only a reduction in the number of eggs produced, but a lowering of the quality of eggs produced.
As a woman gets nearer to menopause, eggs cease to be released altogether.
Age related illnesses
As women get older, they are more likely to have suffered illnesses that can affect fertility. These include surgery on the reproductive organs, endometriosis or ectopic pregnancies’. General medical issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hypothyroidism and lupus can also have a negative impact on fertility.
This Is Why Age Matters
This is why it is important for eggs to be donated by younger women as the desired end result is a healthy pregnancy, carried to full term. One of the optimum requirements is healthy eggs and so a younger donor gives the best chance of obtaining them.
#2 HOW CAN I PAY FOR FERTILITY TREATMENT?
If you’re thinking about having fertility treatments such as IVF to start your family, you may be worried about how you will pay for it. Health insurance can play a part in financing your treatment but how much it will pay out varies enormously from state to state and even then, it depends what sort of insurance policy you have.
Let’s take a look at some facts about what may be available to you.
The Affordable Care Act and how it may help you
The Affordable Care Act (ACA – sometimes called Obamacare) stipulates that health insurance companies must provide the same essential benefits. These include for example, emergency services, hospitalization, outpatient care, prescription drugs as well as maternity care and care of the newborn. The insurers may also add extra health benefits onto a plan if they wish.
Sadly, treatment for infertility is not one of the essential benefits stipulated by the ACA. So if your existing health insurance didn’t already cover treatment for infertility before the Act was passed, it doesn’t have to do so now.
However, there is good news too. Infertility is classified as a pre-existing condition. Before the Affordable Care Act, a pre-existing condition could have meant that you would be denied health insurance. Since 2014, a health insurance company is not allowed to refuse you cover if you have been given a diagnosis of infertility.
All States are not equal…
Currently, fifteen states mandate some coverage of fertility treatment. The states are:
Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia – all of which require some cover. To complicate matters, they don’t all require the same coverage.
Colorado does not currently mandate coverage. However, your own insurance may cover some of your diagnosis and treatment. The coverage offered by your policy is determined by your insurance company and your employer.
Get to know your policy
Health insurance policies generally come under one of these five:
No insurance cover for fertility
Insurance cover for the diagnosis of infertility only
Insurance cover for the diagnosis of infertility and some (limited) treatment
Full Insurance cover for Infertility
Insurance cover for medication (which may or may not include drugs for fertility)
If your insurance policy covers diagnosis and some treatment for infertility, read it carefully to be sure of exactly what that means. Make sure you’re clear about possible cover (or not) for oral ovulation drugs, injectable fertility drugs and intrauterine insemination.
What about Your Partner’s Policy?
If your partner is male, check his health insurance to see if his testing and treatment for infertility is covered.
If you are in a same sex relationship, take some time to investigate what coverage your health policies give. Check if you have cover for same sex spouses or domestic partners. This sort of coverage varies by state and by individual policy so it’s important to be clear.
Full infertility coverage
If this is your insurance policy, that’s great! Just to be sure, go over the small print and ask your fertility doctor if any of the following are recommended:
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or
Intracellular sperm injection (ICSI)
This can be a confusing area so it’s best to ask your fertility doctor about what drugs are covered by your plan. This is especially important as some policies will happily pay for one drug but not another – at their discretion, regardless of what you need.
Egg Donors Don’t Need Health Insurance
As mentioned in our article on Egg Donor Reimbursement, throughout the entire process of donating eggs, all medical expenses are covered, as well as attorney fees, donor insurance, travel expenses, and in some cases hotel accommodations, airfare, and a per diem. The amount of financial reimbursement usually varies with each case, but can range from $5,000 to $ 10,000 in some cases.
I’m not covered. Help!
Even if your insurance does not provide any coverage for fertility treatment, don’t give up. There are many financing plans and other methods of helping you to pay for treatment and to build your family.
#3 IS MONEY CAUSING ARGUMENTS?
HOW TO SET AND REACH YOUR GOAL OF PAYING FOR INFERTILITY TREATMENT
If you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to undertake treatment for infertility, the worry about how to pay for it can be just one more major stressor in the long list of stressors that you and your partner have already suffered to get this far.
Even though you both want the same end result, money can be a flashpoint that can cause arguments, resentment, ill feeling and a huge amount of stress.
Finding the money to pay for infertility treatment may feel like the last hurdle to overcome before you attain your dream of building a family – which also puts extra pressure on.
Honesty is the best policy
If you’re both on the same page about finding the money it’s a great start. However, the cracks can begin to show and widen if one of you is committed to finding the money no matter what but your partner appears to be less committed. This apparently negative reaction may be due to the sheer worry that you won’t be able to come up with sufficient finances and that your dream may not be realized.
If you’re in that situation right now, it’s a good idea to take some time out from obsessing about where the money will come from and just sit down and talk it out.
Find some middle ground
People may become extra defensive and emotional when discussing money. As a couple, you will have regular living expenses to pay for and the thought of budgeting, saving and cutting back on expenses may feel like a Herculean task.
In infertile couples, it is often the woman who appears to be more emotionally committed to attaining the goal of a family. From that perspective, it would be logical to assume that she would also be the more committed to finding the necessary money. It is interesting to find that it is often the male couple who wants to take control of the couple’s finances and he may become almost aggressive in his need to do so and the female may misinterpret this as her partner becoming excessively controlling. In actual fact, the main motivator for males to take financial control is that it may be his way of contributing to getting his partner what she wants. He may rationalize that he cannot relieve his partner of all the medical procedures that she will undergo therefore he can contribute by making sure the money is there.
I hate talking about money!
In many couples, talking about money can almost become a taboo simply because it is an immediate source of potential conflict.
This has to be viewed in the context of what has brought the infertile couple to this point. They will have been trying to build a family for many years and each month, they have had to face fresh disappointment. They may have undergone potentially embarrassing and humiliating medical tests to discover which partner is ‘at fault’ – and then had to deal with the emotional fallout that the news invariably causes. One partner may be more invested than the other in pursing the goal as far as they can. Dealt with individually, each of these factors can cause exhaustion, anxiety, conflict, disappointment and ultimately depression. Add them all together and then throw money into the mix and it can become such a distressing issue that couples often fear they will split up because of the stress involved.
Five Ways to approach finding the finances for building a family – without tears
Before you sit down to talk, agree that you will both try not to become emotional or apportion blame. If either of you needs time out – agree on how long. Be kind to each other.
Discuss what money means to each of you. Do you find it a worry? If so – why? Be as specific as you can to avoid the discussion descending into a free for all.
Discuss how money was dealt with by your parents. Who held the purse strings – if anyone? Was it discussed or never discussed? What financial state ere your parents in? Was money a worry for them and therefore for you?
Discuss how you view the prospect of budgeting. Does it feel scary? Do you feel it’s unrealistic as you feel you’re already finding it hard to make ends meet? Do you see it as a necessary method of finding the money you need for treatment – or even the only method?
Discuss how much money you think you need to find. For clarification, contact your infertility doctor for advice on how much you may need.
Discuss exactly how you may obtain the money.
Create a monthly account and divert savings into it just as you would for any other large purchase
Discuss a monthly expenditure that you could drop i.e. takeaway coffee (get a coffee machine that would pay for itself in a couple of weeks!)
Investigate financing plans and grants that may help
We ended up rowing…now what?
You may need help from an impartial person such as a couples counsellor or marriage therapist. Don’t view this as a failure – try and see it as ironing out one more step towards attaining your dream. And don’t forget that many other people have been down the same path that you’re following now. There is no shame in asking for help.
If money issues are causing problems
Talk to each other – designate a day and time if necessary
Decide how to tackle this issue
Implement your plan of action
Seek help if necessary
And above all, don’t give up!
#4 WHAT HAPPENS IF A DONOR CHANGES HER MIND?
Thankfully, egg donors don’t change their minds too often but it can happen and it is something to be aware of. A donor could decide that she just doesn’t want to continue for a few reasons. Donating eggs is an emotional process and a woman could sign up to donate with the best will in the world and then decide that she can’t deal with giving away a potential life that she will not have any contact with. Or a donor may not do well in the psychological evaluation or the medical screening and may have to withdraw for those reasons.
Our egg donor has backed out – now what?
The simple answer is that you will find another donor. But of course it’s not as straightforward as that. Losing a donor can be extremely upsetting.
Getting to the point where you need an egg donor to start to build your family means that you have already gone through a lot of disappointment, heartache, soul searching and pressure on both yourself and your partner. If a donor changes her mind or is disqualified, it can feel as if you have gone back to square one. Having a donor allows you to start being hopeful. You may already have been visualizing your child and cautiously allowed yourself to become excited and positive. If a donor backs out, all of those emotions are wiped out and it can take a lot of energy and determination to pick yourself up off the floor and start all over again.
Why Am I So Angry?
Feeling angry is a completely normal reaction to a setback like this. You may initially feel disbelief that this is happening to you and then shocked. Once the shock wears off, you may feel anger, frustration and a sense of unfairness. These are all horrible emotions to go through but again, totally normal.
You may feel as if you want someone to blame. The obvious place to put the blame would seem to be the donor but you may also blame staff at the clinic or even yourself.
On an intellectual level, you will recognize that blaming the donor is a waste of energy. You cannot sue her, you have no contact with her and if she changes her mind, you are helpless. Feeling helpless is what really hurts as you have been helpless so many times on your journey to where you are now.
Blaming the staff is also illogical but you may feel anger towards them for not ‘forcing’ the donor to go ahead – or for putting potential blocks in the donor’s way, such as the psychological evaluation or the medical assessment. You will know in your heart of hearts that these ‘blocks’ are in place to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. But your donor has backed out – so that didn’t work.
A Roller Coaster of Emotions
This back and forth switching of head to heart and back again can be exhausting. The best course of action is to talk to staff and to allow yourself to feel these emotions. Bottling them up can cause more harm in the long term so vent your feelings and then move forward. You’ve come this far – so keep going.
Don’t you just hate these quotes? But don’t forget that they have become quotes because they are generally true. Also try to remember why you are where you are. Yes, you’ve had a setback but you’re still on the main road to hopefully achieving your aim. So, be easy on yourself. It’s only human to feel all of the emotions we have mentioned. So feel them but don’t let them blur your focus and whatever you do, don’t back out now. View it as a setback and not the end of your journey. Keep on going.
#5 WHAT MEDICATIONS ARE INVOLVED WITH EGG DONATION AND WHAT ARE SOME POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS?
It’s natural to wonder what medications you will be expected to take when you become an egg donor. Once you’re accepted as a donor, Staff at the clinic will, of course, give you all the information you need to know.
If you’re still at the stage of thinking about becoming an egg donor, here’s a round-up of the sort of medications you can expect and what their possible side effects are.
Preparing the Ovaries
Once you have officially been accepted as a donor, you will need to go through hormone treatments. This is to prepare your ovaries and usually takes a few weeks. One of the keys to successful egg donation is to synchronize the development of the egg recipient’s endometrium (the lining of her uterus) with the growth of your follicles and eggs. To achieve this, birth control may be taken to keep your cycle ‘on hold’ so that you can start the suppression phase once your cycle has synchronized with the recipient’s cycle.
Possible Side Effects: nausea, mood swings, spotting, a lighter period than usual.
The next step in the process is to suppress your natural ovulation. Your pituitary gland naturally secretes hormones and this process is suppressed by daily injections of gonadotropin (GnRH) agonists. These drugs are commonly used to prevent the eggs being ovulated and “lost” inside the body before they can be successfully retrieved.
While you are taking the birth control medications and gonadotropin, you will have frequent blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor progress. To end this cycle, you will be instructed to stop taking the birth control medication and you will have a menstrual period that is synchronized with the recipient’s.
Possible Side Effects: headache, nausea, abdominal tenderness, spotting, mood swings.
Ovarian stimulation process
Follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) are given to help increase the number of eggs produced. FSH is taken daily for around ten days.
Possible Side Effects: hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, bloating, nausea.
Bringing the Eggs to Maturity
The next step is triggering the oocytes to go through the last stage of maturation, before they can be retrieved. This last growth is triggered by an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). During this stage, you will have frequent blood tests and ultrasounds to carefully monitor the development of your egg follicles. The hCG injection will help to separate your eggs from the follicle walls to facilitate retrieval. The eggs will be collected 34 to 36 hours after the hCG injection.
NOTE: If not enough follicles grow or if you’re at risk for severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, your treatment cycle may be cancelled and the hCG shot will not be given.
Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS)
There are varying degrees of OHSS, from mild abdominal pain to blood clots. However, with careful monitoring, a donor has less than a one percent chance of developing severe OHSS.
Possible Side Effects: headache, nausea, abdominal tenderness, spotting, mood swings.
It may sound a little daunting but…
…don’t forget that you will be monitored extremely carefully by qualified staff who are very experienced. Communication is vital at every step and if you do suffer any side effects, let your doctor know immediately.
#6 I WANT TO DONATE EGGS BUT I’M NERVOUS ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINATION.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
The thought of taking any kind of test is daunting. When that test is standing between you and your goal of becoming an egg donor, the stress levels shoot up and it’s completely normal to feel nervous. First of all, relax. No one is trying to ‘trip you up’ with awkward questions or make you feel inadequate. The tests are there for your own protection and safety and to try and gain the best outcome for everyone involved in the amazing process of creating a new life
If it’s all so wonderful why is it stressful and why do I need to be tested?
You want to donate eggs and that is a wonderful thing. However, you also need to be aware that there are many stresses involved – some which you may not even have thought of. It’s best to be completely open and honest in both tests to make sure that you have the right mind set and a realistic expectation of what you are letting yourself in for.
What Does The Test Involve?
The psychological examination comprises two parts – a test that you take on a computer and an evaluation with a psychologist. The purpose of these tests is to give you information about the potential stresses and psychological aspects of being an egg donor. It is also to make sure that you will be able to deal with both of these.
What Sort Of Questions Will I Be Asked?
Tests vary from centre to centre but you may be expected to consider the following types of question:
What is your motivation for egg donation?
This sounds like a simple question but there are many potential answers. If you want to donate eggs simply to give a childless couple a baby, that’s fabulous. But the key words in that sentence are ‘to give’. You will be giving away not just an egg but a life. The chances are that you won’t know what happens to that life – how he or she is raised, what happens in their life. That’s a much bigger question than giving away an egg.
The Colorado Center for Egg Donation strongly recommends that if financial compensation is your only reason for becoming an egg donor, then you should reconsider your decision to donate.
Are you thinking about donating your eggs to help with pain or grief caused by a miscarriage or an abortion you may have had?
This is an understandable reason but the truth is that you may be letting yourself in for much more pain and grief by donating eggs because of a prior miscarriage or abortion. This is a classic head and heart argument. Your heart may tell you that by helping an infertile couple, you will feel better about your own loss – but in doing so, you will be creating another loss…the loss of your eggs which are potential life. Your head tells you that of course you could cope with this but don’t forget that in order to give eggs, you will be given several hormones. Now are you able to think so rationally and clearly? You may be better served by taking some time out to assess what you really want to do about your sad loss, such as getting some counselling to help you come to terms with it.
How flexible is your schedule? Are you able to attend multiple appointments?
This is a straightforward question but one that you may not have considered. Multiple appointments mean just that and there will be daily appointments as well. Are you able to miss the time off work? What will you do with the rest of your day when your appointments are over – can you work them into a do-able schedule or would you be left with time to kill.
Making it legal
Once you have been approved for the treatment program, you will enter into an agreement with the egg recipient that is legally binding. This sets forth the rights and responsibilities of both parties involved. The donor may be required to have no contact at all with any child born from the egg donation or it may be agreed that the resulting child could choose to contact their donor much later, at legal ‘coming of age’.
These possible outcomes raise a lot of questions:
What are your thoughts about passing on your genetic material to a potential child with whom you would have no contact?
How do you feel about being contacted in the future by the recipient or intended child?
If you are not married, but hope to marry in the future, will you tell your future husband that you were an egg donor?
What happens if you have since married and had children of your own and contact is requested?
Have you discussed egg donation with your partner or your parents?
Would you want to do this or not? You may wish to keep it entirely to yourself which is understandable and is your choice. What happens if you feel that you need some support during the process? Do you have someone to confide in who would keep the process a secret too?
Give it some thought…
Some of these questions sound simple but require time and thought to come to the conclusion that is right for you. Ironing out as many issues as you can before you start, will mean that you are more prepared and have a more realistic outlook.
None of the questions have been designed to frighten you or freak you out. The more prepared you are, the more enriching the experience will be. And everyone involved is working towards a happy outcome. It will be wonderful if you can be part of creating and donating that amazing miracle of life.
#7 WHY CAN’T I BE AN EGG DONOR IF I HAVE A PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDER?
Being told that you have not been chosen to be an egg donor can be devastating. Some fertility centres don’t give a reason for rejection on the basis that the donor may dwell on a single aspect and become depressed about it. If not knowing a reason for rejection would worry you excessively, it’s worth asking what the centre’s policy is before going through the medical and psychological screening.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine suggests that you should not donate eggs if you have a serious psychological disorder.
A psychological disorder, or mental illness can influence how you think, feel, behave and how you relate to others and to your surrounds. Symptoms can be very mild or severe, depending on the disorder that you have. People with a psychological disorder may find it difficult to manage daily routines and excessive demands put upon them – both of which are an integral part of being an egg donor.
What causes it?
We still don’t understand the exact cause although research is finding that many psychological disorders are caused by a combination of at least four main factors – described below.
They are not caused by a character weakness and you cannot recover from them just using your own self-will and self-discipline.
Many mental illnesses run in families which would suggest that they may be passed down from parents to children. This is not automatic – just because one of your parents has or had a mental illness doesn’t mean you will have one. Hereditary just means that you are more likely to get the condition than if you didn’t have an affected parent. Obviously, this would not be a desired potential trait to pass on via a donated egg.
Experts believe that many psychological disorder are linked to problems in many genes which is why a person may inherits the chance of suffering a mental disorder but doesn’t always go on to develop the condition. It is now believed that a psychological disorder occurs from inheriting these genes and then being faced with other issues, such as psychological trauma and environmental stressors. It is this combination of factors which may finally trigger, the disorder, in a person who has inherited the chance of developing it.
Some psychological disorders have been linked to an abnormal functioning of brain circuits that connect the different areas of the brain that control thinking, mood, and behavior. Those faulty brain circuits may be helped to work efficiently using medication and psychotherapy. Injury or inflammation to the brain may also play a part in a person developing some form of psychological disorder.
Some psychological disorders may be triggered by trauma suffered as a child or teenager, for example
Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
A significant early loss, for instance, the loss of a parent
Certain stresses – such as a death or divorce, a dysfunctional family life, changing jobs or schools, and substance abuse – can trigger a psychological disorder in someone who may already have other risk factors.
The combination of these factors causes an effect that is worse than the normal grief and other appropriate responses that would be expected from such events.
#8 FIVE INFERTILITY FINANCING PROGRAMS
The cost of infertility treatment can be dauntingly high – especially if you have already paid out for a diagnosis. The cost also becomes an emotional one if finding the money is standing between you and your dream of building a family.
It is possible to find banks and other sources of lending but what you may not know is that there are financing programs specifically for infertility treatment. Here are five of them in alphabetical order.
#1 The Assisted Reproduction Insurance Program®
The Program offers ten doctor-recommend insurance plan options for individual fertility needs.
If pregnancy is not achieved, the program offers refunds and credits or transfers to egg donor plans within the program during the 18-month enrolment term.
The program combines insurance coverage with preferred provider organization rates.
You may ask your IVF doctor to join the preferred provider network.
The program offers discounts on fertility medications through Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy.
Call Them: 760-870-7070
#2 Fertility Lifelines
Company: EMD Serono
The Compassionate Care Program is a designed to provide income eligible patients with savings on EMD Serono fertility medications.
Patients who demonstrate financial need and have a valid prescription may qualify for 50 to 75% off the price of EMD Serono fertility medications or $10 off per unit after completing a mail-in rebate.
Eligible patients can use the program for multiple cycles during each year.
Patients must reapply each year. Additionally, depending on income, eligible medically retired veterans who do not qualify for the Compassionate Corps Program will receive an automatic discount of 25% off the self-pay price of EMD Serono fertility medicines through the Compassionate Care Program. These patients can also qualify for 50 to 75% off of EMD Serono fertility medications if they meet the financial and other eligibility criteria of the Compassionate Care Program.
Eligibility is based on qualifying annual household gross income and first-time participation in the Compassionate Care Program.
Call Them Toll Free: 1-866-LETS-TRY (1-866-538-7879)
#3 Fund My Doctor
They pay your Doctor directly
Easy Process (simple credit check)
They approve those with less than perfect credit
Financing up to $30,000
Instalment plan options with FIXED interest rates
Financing Programs up to 60 months, with monthly payments starting at $60 a month
Interest free programs up to 24 months, depending on credit rating
All loans have NO pre payment penalties
Call Them Toll Free: 800-853-0691
#4 Spring Stone Patient Financing
Your choice of payment plans1
Finance from $499 to $40,000
Extended plans start at only 3.99% APR
Easy application process and quick decision
No initial payment
No prepayment penalty
Call Them Toll Free: 800-630-1663
#5 Medical Financing
Financing up to $20,000
Same as Cash options available
Convenient revolving lines of credit
Simple interest installment loans
No prepayment penalty
Multiple Financing plans to choose from
Sub-prime financing available for less than perfect credit
Call Them Toll Free: 1-888-502-8085
#9 WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SURROGATE MOTHER AND A GESTATIONAL CARRIER?
Early in 2011, the actress Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban released a statement regarding the birth of their second daughter, Faith Margaret. They said:
“Our family is truly blessed and just so thankful, to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret. No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier.”
The couple were criticized at the time for using the term ‘gestational carrier’ as reporters felt it was a cold term and that they should have used the name ‘surrogate mother’ instead.
The two terms still cause some confusion but there is actually a big difference between a surrogate mother and a gestational carrier.
Traditional surrogate mother
The dictionary definition of a surrogate is:
“A substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role”
A surrogate mother is a woman who carries a baby to full term and then gives it to the infertile couple. In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate woman has the sperm of the intended father introduced via artificial insemination. The resulting baby is therefore created from the egg of the surrogate mother and the sperm of the intended father. The baby would also inherit genetic information from the intended father but also from the surrogate mother.
A gestational carrier (sometimes called a gestational surrogate) is a woman who carries a baby to full term and then gives it to the infertile couple. However, there is one major difference. The baby is created using the egg of the intended mother and the sperm of the intended father.
The intended mother has to undergo hormone injections, careful monitoring, blood tests and then have her eggs harvested.
Once this has been done, the egg of the intended mother and the sperm of the intended father are put into a glass dish. This is why the process is called in vitro as it means ‘in glass’. The eggs and sperm are then incubated with careful temperature and infection control for between 48 and 120 hours. After this time, the best fertilized eggs are chosen and between one and three are introduced into the uterus of the gestational carrier via a thin tube inserted through her cervix. Once an egg has implanted, pregnancy is established and the gestational carrier carries the baby to full term, delivers him or her and then gives the baby to the intended parents.
Any remaining fertilized eggs may be cryopreserved (frozen) and saved for future attempts at pregnancy.
Reasons for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
A woman’s fallopian tubes are missing or blocked.
A woman has severe endometriosis.
A man has low sperm counts.
Artificial or intrauterine insemination has not succeeded.
The intended parents have suffered from unexplained infertility for a long time.
A couple wants to test for inherited disorders before embryos are transferred.
IVF can be done even if the intended mother has:
had atubal ligation (her tubes tied) and surgery to reverse this did not succeed.
no fallopian tubes.
blocked fallopian tubes which can’t be repaired.
IVF can be done using donor eggs for women who cannot produce their own eggs due to advanced age or other causes.
#10 USING THE INTERNET FOR INFERTILITY INFORMATION – A GOOD OR BAD THING?
The internet is a hugely popular way for people to find out information. We are very quick to ‘Google’ for answers, especially now that so many people have smart phones and instant access to thousands of answers to one question.
Using the internet can be a good thing because of the sheer volume of information at our fingertips. Sadly, that can also be a bad thing as there are many articles that have not been researched properly and people may read them and believe what they read.
Understanding your infertility, the diagnosis and the innumerable options for treatment can have you confused in a very short space of time. So how do you know what to believe and which information to discard?
Look for accreditation
Take some time to see if the website that you are reading (or whoever hosts that website) is accredited by a qualified organization.
Accreditation simply means that the information is competent, has authority or credibility. There are many non-profit and non-political organizations that provide such accreditation (or credentials) to hospitals and health care facilities in the United States.
Five of the many accreditation bodies
All of these accreditation bodies are trustworthy. There are many more but these are the main five.
The Joint Commission
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
The Health On the Net Foundation (HONcode)
The Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC)
How do I know if information is accredited?
If a website has accreditation, it will be proud to display it and that should give you confidence in the information that you are receiving. The accreditation should be prominently displayed on the site or you could check the ‘About’ section. The golden rule is that if you cannot find the accreditation easily, the chances are that they are not accredited.
Understanding more about website accreditations will make the time that you spend surfing the net much more productive and helpful.
Forums do have their place as they can be a great place of shared resources and information. There are also newsgroups and message boards. If you visit any of these regularly for help, information and support, it’s worth keeping the following questions in mind:
Is the person that I’m talking to / communicating with via message boards in the same situation as me? For example, are they the same age, do they have the same diagnosis and is their partner’s fertility the same as my partners?
Is this information coming from a ‘successful’ patient or an ‘unsuccessful’ one?
Does the person that I’m communicating with have valid references for their information?
Is the person that I’m communicating with trying to push something because they are a sponsor or sales person for that?
Does the information that I’m reading have a date? How current is it? If it doesn’t have a date it’s best ignored.
Are other sites with related topics listed? If not, you’re only looking at one view of an issue. Search for a read more for balanced information.
Be informed – not confused and upset
Take notes while you are searching for information. It’s a good idea to copy and paste the URL of the website onto each relevant note so that you know where you found it, if you need to come back later and check it out again.
If you find some information which you think may be helpful or that you’re not sure about, print off your notes and take them to your next appointment. Your fertility doctor will be only too happy to make sure that you have the right information.
If you take all of the suggested precautions, then you may find that the internet is extremely helpful.
NOTE: Please bear in mind that no information on the Internet is a substitute for medical advice from your own doctor.